Page images
PDF
EPUB

famous book, on the origin, spirit, and institutions of Christian chiv. alry,” extorted the praise, even, of critics who had but little sympathy with Mediæval institutions, and was heartily welcomed and extolled by the historian Arnold, and the poet Wordsworth.

The subject of Wordsworth's beautiful poem-The Armenian Lady's Love is taken from the fourth book of The Broadstone of Honor. Wordsworth dedicated the poem to Digby, “as an acknowledgment, however unworthy, of pleasure and instruction derived from his numerous and valuable writings illustrative of the piety and chivalry of the olden time."

In 1831, appeared the first volume of his Mores Catholici; or, Ages of Faith. It was published in eleven duodecimo volumes; the last of which appeared in 1840. It was reprinted in 1845-47 in three volumes, royal

octavo.

It may be safely affirmed that this great work has made its author's name immortal. No other work in our language--we believe we may say with perfect trutlı, no other work in any language-presents so completely, so felicitously from every point of view, the claims of the Catholic Church to the veneration, love and obedience of every existing human being. It may be said to be a picture of the life of the Christian world so aceurately photographed, that no feature is wanting that could be required to give due expression to the whole, in which the portraiture is so faithful that the inner life is expressed as well as the outer semblance.

The humility, the devotion, the greatness, the learning, the genius of the man are all displayed in this incomparable work. In producing it, he evidently placed under contribution the principal libraries of Europe and Asia, and invested the knowledge garnered from these sources with charms peculiarly his own; charms which exhibit the genius of the poet, the acuteness of the philosopher, the comprehensiveness of the statesman, and the holiness and purity of the saint.

His Compitum; or, The Meeting of the Ways at the Catholic Church, was published in seven duodecimo volumes, 1848–54.

A second edition of this excellent work with additions appeared in

1855.

BRIEF NOTICE OF THE AUTHOR.

V

[ocr errors]

From this time forward until his death he wrote and published the following works: I. The Lover's Seat.-Kathemerina or Common Things in Relation

to Beauty, Virtue and Faith. London, 1856. 2 vols. II. The Children's Bower; or, What You Like. London, 1858,

2 vols. III. Evenings on the Thames ; or, Serene Hours and What They Re

; quire. London, 1860. 2 vols. IV. The Chapel of St. John; or, a Life of Faith in the XIXth Century, London, 1861.

London, 1861. Second Edition, 1863. This was a memorial to his deceased wife. V. Short Poems. London, 1865. Second Edition, London, 1866. VI. A Day on the Muse's Hill. London, 1867. VII. The Sales and Transfers of Shares in Companies, etc. London,

1868. VIII. Little Low Bushes (Poem). London, 1869. IX. Halcyon Hours (Poem). London, 1870.

X. Ouranagaia (A Poem). London, 1871. XI. Hours with the First Falling Leaves (in verse). London, 1873. XII. Last Year's Leaves (in verse). London, 1873. XIII. The Temple of Memory (A Poem). London, 1874. XIV. The Epilogue to Previous Works in Prose and Verse. London,

1876. He died at his residence, Shaftesbury House, Kensington, March 22, 1880, in the 81.st year of his age.

The American publisher hopes to receive sufficient encouragement to enable him to reproduce all Digby's works, in a uniform edition, worthy of their great merit.

NEW YORK, January, 1888.

SUMMARY.

BOOK I.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION, stating the origin and design of the Work—The general interest attached to the history of the middle ages, and the opinion of certain modern writers respecting them, They were ages of faith-The advantage of the proposed course—The importance generally of instruction by examples—Its particular advantage in the case of Christians-Religion intimately connected with history-Such retrospects especially valuable to those who live in countries that have lost the faith-England retains a fondness for the association of Christian antiquity—The inconsistency of directing studies solely to classical literature—The claims of the middle ages upon general atteution-From what sources the matter of these books will be drawn, and what style will be adopted— The objection that it is only a system, stated and answered, as also that which accuses it of not following a plan sufficiently defined-Remarks upon the real objections to which it may be liable

.

p. 9

CHAPTER II.

The novelty of the truth announced respecting the beatitude of the poor in spirit—The reception of this doctrine in ages of faith—How delivered by holy writers-How far corresponding with the sentences of ancient sages—The evils and wretchedness of the rich, and the dangers con sequent upon riches—How religion consoled the poor, and forced its wiselom upon the secular society—The political condition of the poor in the middle ages not so unfavorable as is supposed—The spiritual advantages of poverty – The opinion of some ancient sages—The practice of the Christian society -The devotion of the poor, and the influence which they exerted upon the manners of society.

P. 40

CHAPTER III.

How the riches he Church were consistent with poverty of spirit—The origin of ecclesiastical property—The spirit with which it was acquired, and the purposes to which it was applied-Examples to illustrate the latter.

p. 60

CHAPTER II.

The humble spirit of ages of faith one cause why they are despised by the moderns-Ages and nations, as well as men individually, must follow the type either of religion or of the world—The whole character of Christian antiquity reduced to the former—The doctrine on this head thus was taught, and the manners resulting from it—The humility of the learned—What traces of this were found in the sages of antiquity-The humble heroism of ages of faith—The absence of great excitement in matters of earthly interest, and the content with which men remained in their natural station - The horror with which pride was regarded. p. 70

rii

BI.

CHAPTER V.

A glance at the spirit of chivalry in the middle ages, and an admission that it may be noted as deficient in humility; it can only be defended as one of the many fornis of a Catholic life in these ages — The danger consequent upon the love of honor-The vanity of human honor ; and of the attempt of some modern writers to exalt it as a pure self-existent principle-In ages of faith, honor may have been gained with bumility—The remarks of St. Theresa upon worldly honor—The evils consequent upon the excessive susceptibility of the chivalrous nature; how this is evinced in many beathen portraits—The misery and guilt of the manners resulting from it— The same delicacy productive of error in pushing virtues to extravagance-The disposition to revenge only overcome by the constant action of the Catholic religion- The misery of these passions protracted to age-The danger resulting from the importance attached to nobility, and even from the generous qualities of the chivalrous natureIts only safety was in complete submission to the religious doctrine.

p. 79

CIIAPTER VI.

The influence of poverty of spirit upon the authors of books in the middle ages— The vain motives of the generality of heathen writers—The contrast to these in ages of faith— With what object the monastic chronicles were written—Their humility— These books often anonymous-Fame not the object-The obscurity of their authors' lives—The vanity of human fameThe style of the monastic writings ; its modesty, stability, and playfulness, not recommended by pompous titles; its simplicity and liability to be misinterpreted by the moderns; the innocence of these authors, and love of truth- The ascetical writers ; remarks upon their style, its connection with their lives and spirit of sacrifice; its literary merits.

p. 92

CHAPTER VII.

The first beatitude answers to the mind of youth-Education with the ancients; with the moderns-Education in ages of faith-Illustrations from ancient books—Care bestowed upon the infant mind--The respect with which youth was treated from a reference to the infancy of our Saviour—The meditations of St. Bonaventura—The sanctity ascribed to youth; its character in secular life-In religious life-Introductory remarks—The advantages of the system of education in ages of faith—Examples from ancient chronicles—The testimony of reason to the beauty and excellence of ancient discipline—The lo of Euripides—The picty of youth exemplified in an ancient story.

p. 104

CHAPTER VIII.

1

Happiness the end of man-The transports which rewarded the humble; their cheerfulnessHumility a source of joy—The irony which belonged to faith and love— The repose and peace consequent upon the absence of vanity, and upon the will being made conformable with the divine will—Humility secured delighit by causing men to seek no exclusion of participants in good-Hopes arose from poverty and weakness—IIumility rendered men patient when depriv. cd of spiritual refreshment, and enabled them to estimate the advantage of being left without it; poverty of spirit a source of consolation in calamity; the only resource to support men of delicate and susceptible natures, which must, if left without it, become intolerably wretchedConclusion: that these ages were eminently characterized by bumility, and rich in the qualification for the first beatitudo.

[ocr errors]

p. 135

BI.

« PreviousContinue »